GM Adds Third Shift at Arlington, Texas Full-Size SUV Plant

General Motors will add a third shift of workers to increase production capacity at its Arlington, Texas assembly plant that makes the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade models.

It’s been a good year so far for the Arlington, Texas plant: even with the price of gas fairly high, sales of full-size GM SUVs have been brisk, and GM already announced a $331 million upgrade/retooling project late last year and a $200 million new stamping facility early this year.

Now, GM is in the middle of retooling plants as it readies a slate of new pickup trucks and SUVs. The new trucks (including GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado) and utilities (Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV) will go on sale in 2013 (perhaps as 2014 models) and will likely gain new features like eight-speed transmissions and direct-injection small-block V-8s, along with higher levels of high-strength steel to keep curb weights low.

Right now, supplies of the full-size SUVs are plentiful — Chevrolet reported a 118-day supply of Silverados at the first of this month — but it’s mostly because Arlington workers have been putting in a hefty amount of overtime since late 2009. Add the fact that the retooling will slow the speed at which the line can move, and GM saw the need to add another shift in order to maintain its present volumes.

The third shift will start the first quarter of next year, with the work of staffing positions starting late this fall. It’s expected to generate about 800 jobs, which would push Arlington’s total employment to over 3000. GM has invested nearly $531 million in the Arlington facility over the past year or so, and estimates the expenditure alone has led to the creation of 1000 jobs.

Sources: GM, Automotive News Data Center (Subscription required)

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